March 22nd, 2005

planet

women talking

I've been reading Gloria Steinem lately, and something I read of hers talked about how much men dominate conversations, even though there's a popular misconception that women talk more. The fact is, in mixed groups, men feel the need to validate conversations with their input, and they're not likely to even listen if it becomes dominated by the women.

At first I figured this was a dated seventies thing, because I work with all men and frequently hang out with all men and I make myself part of the conversation quite easily. But then I started noticing other groups... my sunday school class, parties, etc, where I wasn't the only woman, and it suddenly became obvious that men were dominating. If anyone talked too long, it was usually a man. If anyone like relating an in-depth personal story, it was a man. At work, conversations are validated based on rank... upper management has the first and last say because they're upper management. But put us all on the same level and it goes by sex.

Then there's political phone banking... if a man and a woman in a household both fit the same profile we can ask to speak with either one, but more and more I found myself asking to talk to the man. Women were much more likely to hang up, blow me off, say they didn't share information about themselves over the phone, say they weren't interested in what I had to say. When I asked men, "If you were to vote on the marriage amendment today, how would you vote?" they were all ready and willing to tell me all about their opinions. Most women still were too, but it was just most, whereas it was all men.

Maybe it's because we're more paranoid and worried about security. I don't blame us on that. Or maybe, like Steinem says, it's the patriarchy. Either way, I figured I'd use the opportunity to tell my fellow livejournallers to pay attention to such things and let me know what you think. Two things are on my mind: First, we need to pay attention to what's going on, and kill this stereotype that women talk too much. Second, us ladies need to figure out a way for our voices to be heard... maybe not when a phone banker calls you, but when you have an opinion in a group, speak the hell up! We've had 150 years of feminism here, let's look like it!